The move was logical on so many levels.
And the Philadelphia Union couldn’t be more thrilled.
Earlier on Monday, the club announced it had acquired 25-year-old forward C.J. Sapong from Sporting Kansas City in exchange for the Union’s highest overall pick in the 2015 MLS SuperDraft.
The dynamic forward scored 20 goals and added nine assists in the past four seasons with SKC. Sapong also played in 10 postseason games and was part of the club’s 2013 MLS Cup title.
In addition to his scoring prowess and tremendous work ethic, Sapong began his career with developmental affiliate Reading United.
“He’s an important piece in the winning culture we’re trying to build,” Union Technical Director Chris Albright said. “He’s 25 (years-old) and just entering his prime and we’re excited to see what that looks like in Philadelphia.”
Sporting Kansas City was 19-0-2 including playoff matches when Sapong scored.
That’s a winning formula.
The next step is helping the Union back into the playoffs for the first time since 2011.
He can’t wait to put the past behind him and move forward with the Union.
“Obviously the last season in Kansas City first and foremost for myself, I felt like I had a lot to give but maybe didn’t have the opportunity to give it,” said Sapong, the 2011 MLS Rookie of the Year. “And towards the end of the season, obviously what transpired in Kansas City, nobody was really happy about the results of the season so I had it in my head it was a possibility of me going elsewhere. Ultimately, I had come to grips with that fact that it was necessary for me and my growth. I found out (Sunday) night getting traded to Philadelphia obviously you go through those first moments of reminiscing and reflection of the prior things to that situation. Then I was quickly excited in thinking about all the amazing things that are in store and ultimately grow into a fit and providing an impact because I feel like because this is a team where I have a good fit and I feel like I can provide an impact.”
Sapong is quite familiar with a lot of players in his new environment.
“I know a lot and it doesn’t necessarily translate into knowing everyday lives but it comes from competing with players,” he said. “I’ve played four seasons and I’ve competed with that core group of players multiple times a season. Competing against somebody when you’re both have something you’re trying to accomplish is sometimes the best way to get to know somebody. That’s something within me is very reassuring that the competitiveness and the camaraderie I’ve always felt going against the Union is one that I will be able to assimilate into very nicely.”
And the coaches?
“I haven’t got to speak to them but I talked to Chris a little bit,” Sapong said. “Ultimately, I know the system and it’s one with hard work and commitment is going to pay dividends. There is a lot of emphasis on creativity and it’s one thing I remember when we would play Philly, there was always something new on top of a consistent physicality and high competitiveness. Actually, I looked forward to playing against and now, I’m excited I get to play alongside these guys.”
So is Albright, who has kept a close eye on Sapong for a long, long time.
“We had an opportunity to make a move for a guy like C.J. so we pulled the trigger,” Albright said. “We’re really happy about the addition.”
Along with Sapong what did you think of Monday's moves? Leave a comment below.
Contact Union writer Andy Jasner at firstname.lastname@example.org